The weatherman said that the morning commute would be wet. Fortunately for me, the rain left the area around 6 a.m. I felt a sprinkle now and then but I didn’t mind them one bit. It was a pretty nice ride. The post rain sunlight, no longer a sunrise due to the lengthening days, looked pretty on the Potomac at Dyke Marsh. Little Nellie posed for a picture,
The ride home was an entirely different matter. At four storms started showing up on radar. My office mates in Rosslyn sent my boss home because he picks up his kids by bike. I waited a while longer because the radar looked much worse than what I could see out the window which was light rain. By this time Allison, one of my co-workers, was in full freak out mode.
I hit the road at a bit after 4:30. There was only a sprinkle now and then. The cold raindrops were noticable in warm spring air on my body. The wind wasn’t too bad and I could see blue sky peaking through the clouds. The cars approaching on the GW Parkway did not have their headlights on. So I was pretty sure I was safe riding.
At the southern end of Old Town Alexandria things changed pretty quickly. I rode under the Wilson Bridge and could feel a blast of cold air. Not good. Heading south from the beltway on the Mount Vernon Trail I could see that the cars all had their headlights on. Looking down river a line of rain presented itself. And it was approaching fast. I stopped to take a picture and put on my rain jacket. These two things took maybe 30 seconds to do. By the time I had zipped up, I was in a downpour. I jumped on Little Nellie and headed into the maelstrom. The rain was so hard it hurt my skin. My shorts were soaked through and through within 15 seconds. Then the waves of wind gusts came, announced by the sheets of rain they sent directly into me. There was a distant rumble of thunder but otherwise I was unconcerned. I’ve ridden in much worse. Since I could see the gusts coming, I could brace for impact. As I made it to Belle Haven Park my concerned shifted from rain to falling tree limbs. Twice in prior years I have narrowly escaped getting clobbered by a huge falling limb.
By the time I cleared the park, the rain and gusts had stopped. Two minutes from start to finish. The rest of the ride home was actually nice.
Three hours later, all hell broke loose. Timing is everything. My aim is true.
This morning before 7:45 the tree that obstructed the Mount Vernon Trail was removed. It probably took all of ten minutes to do.
It has been pointed out to me that both the Mount Vernon Trail and Jones Point Park are owned by the National Park Service. I believe that the city maintains this section of the park. Either way, leaving this obstruction here for five days is not the sign of a bicycling friendly city. A bicycling friendly city would make sure that it’s bicycling infrastructure is treated with the same urgency as any street in its jurisdiction.
Last Thursday our area was hit by strong thunderstorms. South of Alexandria, microbursts hit the Belle Haven and Belle View areas of Fairfax County and Dyke Marsh especially hard. The Mount Vernon Trail in this area was closed as was the adjacent George Washington Memorial Parkway. Within a day and a half the trail and the Parkway were cleared of obstructions.
This tree came down across the Mount Vernon Trail in the same storm. Unfortunately, for trail users, this tree fell in Jones Point Park just south of Old Town in the city of Alexandria.
The League of American Bicyclists (of which I am a member) designated Alexandria as a bicycle friendly city at the silver level in 2013. You’d think that getting silver level status would mean that the city regards the users of the Mount Vernon Trail with respect. Not so much,
The failure to remove this downed tree is testimony to what’s wrong with the awards. Alexandria tolerates cyclists. I have to wonder whether Alexandria would even merit bronze status without the Mount Vernon Trail, a federal government trail.
If the city thinks I’m being harsh, prove me wrong. Remove the tree. And the next time this happens don’t wait days and days until trail users call you out on your inaction.
After three days off the bike, I took a short ride in the wind to get my legs back. Before heading out I stopped to check out the flowers and blossoms in my yard. Mrs. Rootchoppers flower garden is going great guns and my lilac bush is blooming. I have to walk past the lilac bushes to get to my bikes. I walk through an invisible wall of lilac fragrance. Love it.
I rode to the Mount Vernon Trail and stopped at the Morningside bald eagle nest. An eagle was perched on a branch in the tree. About a half mile of wind later, I stopped to check out a big nest that seems to be getting bigger on a tiny island in Dyke Marsh about 100 yards from the trail. This area is getting crazy crowded with bald eagles.
I made my way to South Royal Street in Old Town. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge underpass was clear but the part of the trail that swerves around the security barrier on Royal was obstructed by a fallen tree. The League of American Bicyclists designated Alexandria a bicycling friendly city a few years ago. They must not have high standards.
I made my way to a park off the Holmes Run Trail in Alexandria. The trail is an old one, and could use a lot of work. That’s okay, because Alexandria is a bicycling friendly city. The park was the site of Alexandria’s earth day activities. They were over by the time I got there. I headed back home. At one point the bike route was blocked by some construction equipment. Instead of using back streets I was forced to ride on busy Duke Street. That’s okay because Alexandria is a bicycling friendly city.
After getting back on course, I decided to check out the southern end of Payne Street. It dead ends at the underbelly of the US 1/I 95 concrete circus. There’s a paved trail at the end of the street. A sign warns that the trail dead ends in 1/4 mile. It occurred to me that only an idiot would build a trail to nowhere so I had to verify that it did, indeed, go nowhere. Sure enough it does. But that’s okay because Alexandria is a bicycling friendly city.
I rode home slowly with a nice strong bicycle friendly tailwind.
Check out my pix on my Flickr page.